Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Message of Hope Marred by Violence Pope Speaks to Millions about Peace on Christmas, While 6 Die in Attacks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Message of Hope Marred by Violence Pope Speaks to Millions about Peace on Christmas, While 6 Die in Attacks

Article excerpt

The pope spoke to millions of listeners Christmas Day about hope and peace. But harsh reality was never far away.

In one of two attacks timed to Christmas services, a car bomb in a Christian area of northeastern India killed the wife, daughter and gr andson of a politician as his family returned from Mass.

In Frankfurt, Germany, a suicide bomber blew herself up at a Christmas Eve service in a working-class neighborhood, killing two worshipers and badly injuring 13 others just as the congregation began the first hymn. In Afghanistan, aid workers marked the capital's first Christmas under control of the Islamic Taliban army, gathering in Kabul and on a hill above the war-battered city to sing Christmas carols. One worshiper carefully explained to soldiers nearby, "It's Christmas Eve. A very big holiday for us." The Taliban regime bans music, but "we respect the dignity of all faiths," said Inyatullah Baligh, an official with the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. In Vatican City outside Rome, Pope John Paul II addressed the Christian faithful from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, overlooking St. Peter's Square. He spoke of "peace and serenity" in Bosnia and Guatemala - where new peace agreements have held so far. "After long years of war at home and abroad, weapons have at last fallen silent and men tread anew the path of understanding and harmony," he said. He wished for the same in the Middle East, where he said "provocations and profound differences" threaten the uneasy peace. He lamented the general indifference to turmoil in the "very heart" of Africa, where bloodshed and a massive exodus of refugees have disrupted so many lives in Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire. "To resign ourselves to such violence and injustice would be too grave a rejection of the joy and hope which Christmas brings. …

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